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Primate testing in Europe

Advanced Techniques to Replace use of Primates

Advanced scientific techniques to replace the use of living animals are at the forefront of science. Developments in science and technology have produced systems to study disease and the effects of drugs and other products at the cellular and molecular level. There is a wide range of techniques that can be employed to replace the use of primates, and some of these are described at the end of this report.

Time for change

Although industry and regulators are inherently resistant to changes in the established system, the reality is that animal testing is a poor predictor of human reactions (see section on species differences), and there are alternatives available.

The continued use of non-human primates is not acceptable just because the industry is used to the system. Replacement of primate use with advanced techniques, or other sources of the information being sought, is good for European science and industry, as well as for primates.

There must be a drive to replace primate use in regulatory testing – primates are a comparatively small part of the regulatory testing strategy for new products, used at a late stage, after tests have been conducted on other species. The use of primates in regulatory testing could , therefore, be replaced more easily than was the case for the EU cosmetics testing ban for example, which was more complex because it needed a ‘start to finish’ replacement strategy.

If the European Parliament and Member States are to respond to public concern and take serious steps on this issue, then it is vital that the animal tests be ended earlier in the regulatory testing programme and advanced non-animal techniques such as microdosing and toxicogenomics are used to replace animals.

The fact that primates come late in the testing strategy means that by the time the monkeys were being strapped into restraint chairs for the experiments we have described below, hundreds even thousands, of smaller animals would already have died to test the same product.

Watch our Save the Primates Video

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